Aspen’s housing authority close to eviction on single mother
After six months of waiting and dealing, APCHA ready to acquire condo from longtime local who failed to prove work requirements
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board of directors on Wednesday passed a resolution authorizing that the agency acquire a deed-restricted condominium at the Airport Business Center, which subsequently kicks out a single mother with two children who has been found to be out of compliance with the rules.
The resolution also asks a judge to appoint a receiver, which would take current owner Sonya Bolerjack out of the equation so the housing authority can sell to a couple who last month won the lottery to purchase the 1,250-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath condo.
APCHA claims that Bolerjack has refused to sign the closing documents and continues to do so even though she told the board at its Feb. 3 meeting that she intended to cooperate in the sale of the property.
Bolerjack said at that meeting that she never received any documents, so the APCHA board tabled the resolution to give her time to voluntarily comply with the court order.
“Subsequently, APCHA staff forwarded the purchase and sale agreement to Ms. Bolerjack, twice, with the request that she execute and return the contract to APCHA,” Wednesday’s resolution reads. “Ms. Bolerjack has not done so.”
After repeated attempts to get her to sign and return the sales document in recent days, Bolerjack has failed to come through.
As a final courtesy, housing authority officials are giving Bolerjack until Friday at 3 p.m. to return the signed paperwork. If she fails to do so, the resolution allows APCHA to acquire the property.
“The resolution authorizes us to proceed with the acquisition but it doesn’t require it so staff is willing to be flexible, again, in attempting to get the signed contract delivered to us if it is in fact signed,” said APCHA attorney Tom Smith.
A Pitkin County District Court judge ruled last August that Bolerjack must put her home up for sale after she sued the agency claiming it abused its authority.
That was after the APCHA board determined in 2019 that she didn’t provide adequate documentation to prove that she works at least 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County, which is one of the requirements of the taxpayer-subsidized housing program.
Bolerjack told The Aspen Times earlier this month that she has given APCHA everything they have asked for, and feels she’s been railroaded, back into a corner and bullied.
“I would’ve done anything to keep my place,” she said, adding she was never made aware of the rules on how to report income as a self-employed, independent contractor. “I sent them everything they asked for.”
She said earlier this month that she would provide documentation to The Times to prove she’s been railroaded but she has not. She didn’t respond to an email sent on Tuesday.
APCHA began investigating Bolerjack in early 2019 after receiving an anonymous complaint. She had over two months to provide required documentation but failed to do so, according to documents.
The board unanimously determined in July 2019 that as a self-employed chef and chef’s assistant, Bolerjack did not provide adequate documentation, including key income statements, such as invoices and payments from clients.
Local resident Andrew Scott, a friend of Bolerjack’s, told the board on Feb. 3 she was working while she was under investigation because she was starting a business.
“That takes many, many hours but only a self-employed person can attest to the amount of hours they worked so that is an issue of justice,” he said. “I know that she probably worked more hours than many people who live in employee housing, who are not being harassed, messed with, not being kicked out of their homes.”
Regardless, Bolerjack entered into a listing contract on Nov. 6, 2020, for APCHA to sell the property.
APCHA, at the request of Bolerjack, “agreed to defer the listing of the property for sale until after Jan. 1, 2021, in order to give her time to locate alternative housing,” according to the resolution.
But since entering into the listing contract, Bolerjack has not responded to APCHA to take the next step so new owners can occupy the unit, according to documents.
APCHA officials also said they’ve given Bolerjack other concessions like allowing her to purchase the condo in 2016 even though she was on the agency’s ineligibility list as a result of previous transgressions while she lived at Truscott apartments.
The resolution states that Bolerjack has been the subject of numerous complaints, including subleasing rooms in the ABC condo and failure to pay HOA dues.
APCHA last year implemented a schedule of fines for violations and a hearing officer to decide each case, and evictions and forcing the sale of property can still be applied per the deed restriction on the unit, or at the discretion of the hearing officer.
Bolerjack’s friend, Catherine Lutz, addressed the blacklisting issue in a letter to APCHA board members last fall.
“Regarding Sonya’s blacklisting from APCHA housing, I am urging you to reconsider …” she wrote. “To ban her forever when hers was the last case before APCHA switched to a new enforcement system that so far has treated arguably worse scofflaws with less long-lasting consequences, is a cruel double standard.”
ACPHA’s resolution notes that anyone “fortunate enough to be successful in securing housing in APCHA’s inventory knows that maintaining compliance with the applicable deed restriction is a necessity. … There is no reasonable way for APCHA to keep the housing program going without enforcing these requirements, as the community expects it to do.”
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